Interest

Return of the Warrior Class

Written by J Rawls

The onset of trench warfare defines the decline of warrior culture in modern history. The concept of taking vast amounts of a population, putting them in uniform and handing them a rifle, defeats the nobility of combat that previously had a well-defined standard or status. Siege craft has been part of combat for far longer, but stalemates like WWI were the beginning of a different scene. This particular scene included the use of gas. Literature from that time period depicts in vivid detail some sentiment, like that from Wilfred Owen in his “Dulce Et Decorum Est”. This wasn’t the first time literature spoke about war as it could be. Just prior to Owen, Thomas Hardy penned his reaction to the Boer War in “The Man He Killed”.

Gassed, A side on view of a line of soldiers being led along a duckboard by a medical orderly. Their eyes are bandaged as a result of exposure to gas and each man holds on to the shoulder of the man in front. One of the line has his leg raised in an exaggerated posture as though walking up a step, and another veers out of the line with his back to the viewer. There is another line of temporarily blinded soldiers in the background, one soldier leaning over vomiting onto the ground. More gas-affected men lie in the foreground, one of them drinking from a water-bottle. The crowd of wounded soldiers continues on the far side of the duckboard, and the tent ropes of a dressing station are visible in the right of the composition. A football match is being played in the background, lit by the evening sun, circa 1919.

Gassed, A side on view of a line of soldiers being led along a duckboard by a medical orderly. Their eyes are bandaged as a result of exposure to gas and each man holds on to the shoulder of the man in front. One of the line has his leg raised in an exaggerated posture as though walking up a step, and another veers out of the line with his back to the viewer. There is another line of temporarily blinded soldiers in the background, one soldier leaning over vomiting onto the ground. More gas-affected men lie in the foreground, one of them drinking from a water-bottle. The crowd of wounded soldiers continues on the far side of the duckboard, and the tent ropes of a dressing station are visible in the right of the composition. A football match is being played in the background, lit by the evening sun, circa 1919.

There is an endless supply of literature on the subject of war. Through the countless ages of negativity portrayed through writing (with equal measure of positive), it is still understood as a frequent necessity. Even Aristotle stated, “We make war that we may live in peace.” In recent times, a noticeable cultural shift started right around the time the United States went to war in Vietnam. There were many contributing factors, but a new theory on freedom began to spread. The draft perpetuated this theory, not by actually taking individuals that did not wish to go, but by being a background thought, a feared punishment as a theoretical for those that were not warriors, or those that did not support their government. Couple that with the media entering the battlefield, pumping the images straight to viewers lounging at home, and you have a recipe for social disaster.

View of demonstrators seated in a circle on the grass as they clap along with a guitarist during an anti-Vietnam War protest, Washington, DC, May 9, 1970.

View of demonstrators seated in a circle on the grass as they clap along with a guitarist during an anti-Vietnam War protest, Washington, DC, May 9, 1970.

So, it began. The nations that participated in WWII had seen struggle on an earth shattering scale. With the onset of Vietnam, the older population wished to distance their youth from war. A dissenting movement erupted that still carries over today. Generation after generation of willful objection to responsibilities on the global scale has created a widening gulf between two classes, one of which previously thought to be extinct.

The Air Cavalry of the United States Army move from their command post to another landing zone during the Vietnam War, using American Bell Huey (UH 1) helicopters. An AP photographer is seen bottom right.

The Air Cavalry of the United States Army move from their command post to another landing zone during the Vietnam War, using American Bell Huey (UH 1) helicopters. An AP photographer is seen bottom right.

Much to the dismay of the dissenters, warriors continue to fight and to exist. The Warrior Class will never disappear. They have held to their traditions and do exactly like they have always done: shoulder the burden and keep moving forward. Pressing civilians into service did not alter the foundations of the military or the Warrior Class. Many that were drafted continued on to retirement age. Those that did not, still learned what the cost of freedom meant. The titles were not given, they were earned as they always have been. Traditions were handed down to them, the same as they are passed on to today, like the Marine Corps Mess Night, the Army’s Cavalry “Spur Ride”, and the Navy 21 gun salute just to name a few.

The United States now has a military consisting of only those that wish to enlist or commission, but the years have taken a toll in popular culture. Unknown to the masses, the military does not make up the majority of the Warrior Class. 7% of the population consists of veterans and current military, but that still does not contain the true number of the population that holds to the Warrior Ethos. The ranks swell when including those that fully support the frontline warriors. Similar to the ancient Greeks, hoplites are found everywhere. Today’s Spartans may be found in that 7%, but the larger masses contribute the same as the other city-states contributed to Sparta. The Warrior Class may be small, but it isn’t going to disappear any time soon. It will continue to adapt and overcome; one step at a time.



SOUND OFF!

The “Warrior Class” exists today in very much the same way as it has throughout history – defined as those who have served in the Profession of Arms, in one of it’s many forms – however, the “Warrior Mentality” and “Warrior Ethos” are a different matter entirely. Here at The Warfighter Journal, we believe that a large (and growing) number of society shares in those things in much the same way as the Warrior Class lives them. That mentality – Never Give Up, Never Quit, Seeking the Highest of Standards, Hitting the Ground Running Everyday, Giving 110%, Living Outside the Bubble, the Only Easy Day was Yesterday etc. – and those ethos – Honor, Courage, Integrity, Selfless Service, Commitment, Loyalty, Duty, Respect, etc. – are the things that make true leadership in life possible. We find these traits and ideas within every police officer, every fire fighter, every paramedic, doctor, nurse and athlete… and within every single professional striving for self-improvement and self-betterment.

Today, it seems more and more, that the Warrior Class and the rest of society are separated by an ocean of social conflict and indifference… That they are completely different cultures, often seemingly incapable of understanding each other. But what most fail to realize, is that those mentalities and ethos form a bridge that connects the two, and while the Warrior Class may have created them, they are emulated by many who share the same qualities.

Knowing that, The Warfighter Journal asks YOU, whether you’re a member of the Warrior Class or just a regular Jane or Joe, in what ways do YOU find the Warrior Mentality in your daily life? In what ways do you find you live the Warrior Ethos?


What are YOUR thoughts?
Let us know in the comments below!
Open discussion helps everyone learn and grow.

About the author

J Rawls

Jeremy Rawls is a former active duty Marine with two combat tours in Iraq. He was part of the invasion in 2003 and later returned for the take down of Fallujah. After leaving the Corps, he worked as a contractor for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security with two contracts in Afghanistan. He is currently a freelance writer.